Did the "bitter" flap affect the race?

New polls show little movement as a result of Obama's "bitter" controversy.

By Steve Benen
April 15, 2008 9:41PM (UTC)
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Interest in Barack Obama's "bitter" comments have left the political world with bated breath, wondering what the polls say. Since the story broke on Friday, the chattering class has speculated at length about how voters might respond to the remarks (and the overheated coverage of said remarks), without having any idea whether anyone would actually care as much as they do.

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza noted this morning that if the polls show Hillary Clinton getting a significant bump in the polls, "bitter-gate" will look like "a seminal moment in the campaign," and may even doom Obama's campaign. If she doesn't, "all of this will quickly be relegated to the dustbin of history as much sound and fury signifying nothing."


So, what's the verdict? At this point, the data points toward the latter. Eric Kleefeld reported:

The Pennsylvania polls are coming fast and furious today -- and while most show a slight uptick in support for Hillary, they all appear to indicate that Obama's "small town" comments are not yet causing any big movement.

SurveyUSA shows Obama gaining a couple of points, with a strong majority of Pennsylvanians saying they weren't offended by the remarks. Rasmussen shows Clinton gaining a couple of points, with a plurality concluding that Obama's comments were not "elitist." Quinnipiac, meanwhile, shows no change at all.


What about the national picture? The Gallup Daily Tracking poll shows Obama maintaining his lead, with "a 51% to 40% margin in the April 12-14 average." The 11-point margin in the poll, taken in the midst of the media flare-up, "is the largest for Obama this year, and marks the ninth consecutive day in which Obama has led Clinton by a statistically significant margin."

Obviously, the landscape could change. Voters who weren't following the news over the weekend may learn about the story and feel insulted.

That said, as campaign-changing moments go, this flap is starting to look a little underwhelming, at least for now.

Steve Benen

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